At just 23 years old, Simone Pretscherer realized she was living like a recluse. She was turning down events with family and friends regularly — even casual, low-key walks or trips to the beach were no-go's for her.
The young Auckland, New Zealand resident should have been living it up, but she was overweight and never wanted to be seen. She didn't realize the impact her weight was having on her life — until she stepped on the scale for the first time in years, and realized she weighed 372 pounds.
"That number was terrifying," she recounted. "I ran to a corner to deal with my emotions. I was so overwhelmed."
Pretscherer spent the next day thinking about what she could do to lose the weight. She was sick of yo-yo dieting and buying into magic weight-loss pills. So she did what the rest of us might be terrified to do: She shared her weight-loss goal with her entire social network and started her journey on August 29, 2014.
Here's how she lost over half her size in less than a year:
1. Start small.
"I knew I had to exercise, so I started with daily walks or swims," Pretscherer said. "I would go to the local pool and swim as many laps as I could in an hour. Or I'd walk for an hour."
The key was making it a habit — she never missed a walk or swim, and would make fitness dates with friends.
2. Cut out processed foods.
"I really changed what I was eating and cut out processed foods — I cut out anything that came from a packet," explained Pretscherer. "I looked on blogs and websites for recipe inspiration!"
Prior to cleaning up her diet, she had been eating lots of carbs — like three or four bakery items a day. Today, she typically has a protein shake for breakfast (made with protein powder, milk, water, banana and raspberries). For a snack, she'll have a protein bar, and lunch is usually omelets or sushi. For dinner, Pretscherer typically cooks some sort of protein with vegetables — and has fun experimenting with foods like zoodles!
3. Be realistic.
"After eating high-sugar content foods, regular food didn't taste as fun," Pretscherer recounted. "It took about three months to retrain my body to really learn what food tastes like." But she stuck with it!
4. Find your motivation.
For Pretscherer, social media was a huge motivator.
"On days when I could not be bothered to go to the gym, seeing a message of inspiration on Facebook or Instagram would push me to get moving," she said. "My followers have no idea how much they give to me!"
"There were weeks when the scale wouldn't move, and that was really difficult," Pretscherer remembered. "But then I'd turn to social media and people would encourage me."
5. Set small goals throughout your journey.
"I couldn't focus on the huge number of weight I needed to lose," Pretscherer said. "Instead, I bought a pair of size 16 jeans and hung them up in my wardrobe. I'd look at them every day. The day I could actually put them on was HUGE. It was a big moment for me!"
6. Set your mind to it.
Pretscherer's biggest tip for people who want to lose weight: "Don't put it off. Set your mind to it and you can achieve it. Make it a lifestyle change instead of a diet. Opt for little changes you can stick with," she said.
7. Celebrate your successes.
In just 11 months, Pretscherer hit her goal weight, and she threw a party to celebrate.
"It was an achievement I had set my mind to, in a time period I dreamed about doing it in. I had to celebrate with my family and friends!"
Two years after starting her journey, Pretscherer is in a good place. She had surgery to remove the extra skin on her upper body. Her core strength isn't quite what it used to be, but she is working on strengthening her upper body and feeling comfortable in her new skin.
She set new goals for herself like a charity boxing challenge coming up soon. And this summer, she wore a bikini for the first time in a long time.
"I'm covered in stretch marks, head to toe, but I'm so proud of where I've come from. I feel really confident in a bikini!"